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July 13, 2005

Planet Discovered In Triple-Sun System

Cool:

newly discovered planet has bountiful sunshine, with not one, not two, but three suns glowing in its sky.

It is the first extrasolar planet found in a system with three stars. How a planet was born amidst these competing gravitational forces will be a challenge for planet formation theories.

"The environment in which this planet exists is quite spectacular," said Maciej Konacki from the California Institute of Technology. "With three suns, the sky view must be out of this world -- literally and figuratively."

The triple-star system, HD 188753, is located 149 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The primary star is like our Sun, weighing 1.06 solar masses. The other two stars form a tightly bound pair, which is separated from the primary by approximately the Sun-Saturn distance.

"The pair more or less acts as one star," Konacki told SPACE.com.

The combined mass of the close pair is 1.63 solar masses.

Using the 10-meter Keck I telescope in Hawaii, Konacki noticed evidence for a planet orbiting the primary star. This newfound gas giant is slightly larger than Jupiter and whirls around its central star in a 3.5-day orbit. A planet so close to its star would be very hot.

The rest of the article explains, pretty interestingly, why it's hard to explain how this planet formed. Apparently gas giants can't form except far from a sun, past a point called the "snow line."

Also, the article contains assertions by scientists that "there are almost certainly no vampires whatsoever" on the new three-sun planet.


An artist's bullshit conception of
the new planet. Note the uncanny
absence of vampires.


digg this
posted by Ace at 08:32 PM

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